‘New Harmonies’ comes to Troy Thursday

Published 4:37 pm Monday, September 28, 2009

The Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music,” will open at the Cultural Arts Studio in Troy Oct. 1 and run through Nov. 11.

The exhibition explores the roots of American music telling the story of its people and cultures through the melodies that define it.

Few have the skills and knowledge of American music that Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Doc Watson possesses. When the guitar player, songwriter and singer of bluegrass, folk, county, blues and gospel music speaks, the music world stops and listens.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“American roots music expresses the joys and sorrows and all the in-betweens in our lives,” Watson said.

The truth of Watson’s words is evident in the emotions that are stirred by the “New Harmonies” exhibit which features nine kiosks with interactive capabilities.

“This exhibition features the music that is part of our Southern roots,” said Eloise Kirk, exhibit committee chair. “Roots music is sacred and secular, rural and urban, acoustic and electric, simple and complex, old and new. It can be played by one musician or a whole band, in elegant concert halls or on the front porches of farmhouses. It is our music.”

The kiosks feature photographs, story quotes, musical instruments and sound bites and provide a fascinating, inspiring and toe-tapping roots journey.

The exhibition is just one part of the roots music experience brought to Troy and Pike County by the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center, the Smithsonian Institution and the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

“‘New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music’ will also include six concerts in the Stephens Gazebo on the square in Troy beginning at 5:15 Thursday, opening day, with Lenny Trawick, representing country music,” Kirk said. “The concerts will continue each Tuesday through Nov. 3 and will feature the Jim Bell Trio, rhythm and blues, Oct.6; Tommy Stewart and band, jazz, Oct. 13; Dan Fraley, backwoods music, Oct. 20; Willie Felton & Co. and Stanley Smith and Co., sacred harp music, Oct. 27; and the Troy University and Community gospel choirs, gospel music, Nov. 3. All Tuesday concerts at the gazebo will begin at 5:15 p.m.

“We will also have a lecture series beginning Thursday, Oct. 1, with Dr. Alan Brown’s ‘Sounds of Alabama, Blues, Folk and Country Western at 10 a.m. at the Trojan Center Theater,” Kirk said.

Daphne Simpkins’ “Presentation on Nat King Cole,” will be at 10 a.m. Oct. 15 at the Claudia Crosby Theater and Dr. Brown will lecture on “Songs of Slavery, Black Folk Songs from Alabama” on Oct. 29 at the Trojan Center Theater.

“The ‘New Harmonies’ exhibition and the concerts and lectures are free to the public and everyone is invited,” Kirk said. “For the older generations, these events will offer an opportunity to bring back memories. For the younger generation, it’s an opportunity for them to learn about their roots music heritage. It’s a first-rate educational program, and we invite everyone join us as we celebrate American roots music Oct. 1 through Nov. 11.”